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The Suidoosterfees ("South Easter Festival") is an Afrikaans arts festival.

Sometimes written as Suidooster-fees, or (wrongly) even two words - Suidooster Fees. Also known as the Burger-Suidoosterfees after its chief sponsor.


The concept was developed by Christa van Louw and the Stigting vir die Bemagtiging deur Afrikaans ("Foundation for the empowerment of Afrikaans”, under mentorship of Jakes Gerwel, as part of the debate ongoing on Afrikaans. The aim was to provide an antithesis to the perceived insularity and "whiteness" of the KKNK and the many other Afrikaans festivals in the country at that time. The idea was that Afrikaans should serve as a common denominator and the basis for a festival in an environment where Afrikaans is the dominant language. It is thus described on the website[1] as: a festival "seamless in terms of language (even though the majority of productions are in Afrikaans), race, gender, political affiliation and faith".

For the same reason the interesting name chosen for the festival refers to the famous prevailing southeaster wind (affectionately referred to as the "Cape Doctor") and is a locally understood metaphor for another one of the central aims of the festival, i.e. to promote healing and reconciliation between the peoples of the Western Cape and the country through Afrikaans, "to enhance people’s sense of dignity and the loss of cultural identity...[and]...counteract the deterioration of all South Africans’ sense of cultural identity"[2].

Since its initiation, the festival was positioned as a multicultural event with Afrikaans as the common denominator. The festival is an important forum for cultural cross-pollination, ranging from intellectual discourse to physical interaction. The board of the Suidoosterfees conducted research on the needs of Afrikaans people across a wide spectrum. Results showed that the capacity of the arts to enhance people’s sense of dignity is often underutilised. Mutual conversation and synergy are important aspects of the festival. Festivals have an obligation to develop its audiences and to counteract the deterioration of all South Africans’ sense of cultural identity.


Originally held at the University of the Western Cape and the Peninsula Techikon, the first festival took place in 2003.

However, by 2006 it had grown to such an extent that, for logistical reasons (e.g. in order to attract more attendees and to improve accessibility), the festival was relocated to the Artscape Theatre Complex and other more public and accessible venues in and around Cape Town in 2007.


The Suidoosterfees has presented productions of operas over the years, including:

2008: La Serva Padrona

2009: La Scala di Seta

2011: Der Fliegende Holländer

2012: Viva la Mamma

2015: The Medium


Wayne Muller. 2018. A reception history of opera in Cape Town: Tracing the development of a distinctly South African operatic aesthetic (1985–2015). Unpublished PhD thesis.

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